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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Job Satisfaction

Dear Sue: I am a legal secretary and I've been with the same partner for over 10 years. We have a very good relationship, but there is no advancement for me as an individual in this department, nor in the firm. I feel stymied. 

I've gone out on interviews, but I am fearful of not finding the professional blend I have with my boss. Should I even be thinking about this, or should I put my own professional satisfaction first? 

-- In doubt

Sue Says: You say you feel stymied and that there is no advancement opportunity for you where you are. Even though you have a great working relationship with your boss, obviously it isn't the only thing that matters to you at this point in your career.

Good working relationships are important and can impact job happiness. People frequently leave jobs due to the challenges of working with difficult people. You are very fortunate you have had such a successful working relationship with your boss, yet as you have seen, it isn't everything in determining job satisfaction. Although there is no guarantee you will have the same type of relationship with another boss, there is no reason to assume you won't or that it can't happen again.

Unless you know you can be happy staying where you are, with no opportunity for advancement, you should put your professional satisfaction ahead of your relationship with your boss and find a job that you find more challenging and stimulating. However, before you leave, be absolutely certain that you didn't overlook any opportunities where you are.

Dear Sue: I worked as an operations specialist for years and finally decided I needed a change. I bit the bullet and took a job with another company. I was thrown into the position and never had the training I needed. 

I feel I am learning the new job at an amazing speed, but the people I work with expect me to know everything. Some days I feel so stupid. Most of the people at this company have been here for many years and worked in many departments. I am not familiar with a lot of their practices. 

I've voiced my concerns and have been assured not to worry. I want to make this job work because it is a wonderful company to work for. 

Any advice you have on how to make my transition more comfortable would be greatly appreciated. 

-- In transition

Sue Says: You didn't say how long you have been with the new company, but the fact that you say you are learning at an amazing speed leads me to believe you are doing just fine. I am not convinced that this is a problem for anyone but you.

There is no reason you need to feel stupid just because you don't have the answer to something or know what to do in every situation. If the expectations of your coworkers seem high, it may be because they perceive you differently than you perceive yourself. It is possible that they think you have a handle on things, and assume you know what ever it is they are asking about.

You've been told you don't need to worry, so why are you so concerned? As you've stated, you are in transition and it will be awhile before you know everything and feel as though you have mastered your job. Until you reach that point, continue to learn at an amazing speed, be honest about what you can do (with yourself and others), ask for help when you need it, be open to feedback and do the best you can. If you do these things, I can't imagine anyone will be unhappy with you or complain about your job performance. 

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

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